Whether you are hand-sewing or have access to a sewing machine, there are a number of basic stitches you’ll want to know. Both structural and decorative, these 10 stitches will have you set to create your first woven garment in no time.
1. Straight or Running Stitch
The straight stitch is the first stitch you’ll want to learn and is the easiest way to create seams to link fabric together. Hold the two pieces of fabric together and pull the needle through on one side and back down at even intervals. This stitch can also be used to baste a fabric, meaning by making the intervals long between the stitches, you can create a semi-sturdy, temporary and easy to remove stitch. This helps with testing to make sure your pieces are correctly connected before removing the baste stitch and replacing with a sturdier stitch.
2. Back Stitch
Similar to the straight stitch, the back stitch is essential for making seams but is considerably stronger than a straight stitch. To create the stitch, come up through the fabric at twice the distance you want the stitch to be and then go back through backwards halfway through the space you had created while stitching up. Keep repeating this process. This should create a solid line of stitches, end to end.
3. Cross or Catch Stitch
This stitch can be useful in stitching together bulkier or stretchy fabric but is also decorative. As the name implies, this stitch is basically making x’s with your stitches but keep in mind that the stitches will be seen. On the right side of the fabric, this creates two lines of small horizontal stitches, while on the reverse it makes long crisscrosses.
4. Zigzag Stitch
The zigzag stitch is essential for fabrics that stretch as the stitch will be able to stretch with the fabric unlike straight stitches that will snap under tension. This is a side to side stitch that’s also the basis for other stitches like the satin or buttonhole stitch. A zigzag stitch can also be used on the edges of fabric to help prevent fraying.
5. Ladder or Slip Stitch
This stitch will create a hem where the stitches will remain hidden. Ideal for when you don’t have a serger and for finished pieces that will be stuffed. This involves hiding the stitches between a fold created on both of the fabric and working from the right side of the fabric where the two folded edges come together.
6. Blind Hem Stitch
Blind Hem Stitches are used to sew two pieces of fabric together or the fold of one fabric together. It’s great for hems since it’s nearly invisible. This stitch is a mix of straight stitches and zigzag stitches.
7. Overcast or Whip Stitch
Use this stitch to sew together two pieces of fabric with flat edges. This also helps to prevent fraying. To create the stitch, you will pass the needle through the fabric and over the edge of the fabric to the other side. The end result looks something like a spiral book binding except pulled tight together without puckering the material.
8. Satin Stitch
Satin Stitches are a variation on the ZigZag stitch and are used to fill in embroidered designs and going around the edges of patches on fabric to keep them held down and tidy. You stitch from side to side like the ZigZap stitch but keep the lines next to each other. The key is maintaining the right tension with your stitches since pulling too tight can bunch the design and if it’s too loose it can snag.
9. Rolled Hem Stitch
These last two stitches are best achieved on a machine but can still be done by hand. The rolled hem uses a special foot on sewing machines that will roll the fabric as it uses zig zag stitch on the fabric edge. This helps to not only prevent fraying, but with thin materials, it helps to place weight at the bottom of the fabric for a nice drape.
10. Buttonhole Stitch
While you may think that the buttonhole stitch is just for making buttons, it can also be used as a decorative border, for example, in applique work. Learning how to properly use this setting on a machine can take a bit of practice but once you have it down, you are set and never limited on your choice of fasteners.
While there are many more stitches that can be created, any garment can be made with just these basics. Now grab a needle and some thread and get to creating.